October 29, 2013 - California Coastal Cruise

Post date: Oct 30, 2013 7:59:40 AM

I can't believe it has been a year since I have updated this site! I'm sorry I have not been better. I can't go back and catch up right now, but I do have some pictures I've been promising to share with friends. I have been anxious to get these pictures on here but haven't had much free time. We left on our cruise September 29, exactly one month ago. My mom & dad came to Phoenix to watch the girls so we could get away. After staying up most of the night packing, we left early Sunday morning and headed towards LA. We went on Princess Cruises and did the 7 night California Coastal cruise. It went to San Francisco, Santa Barbara, San Diego and Ensenada. I put captions on the photos so you can look through those for the condensed version (only 88 photos.) My camera battery died while in San Diego and wouldn't recharge, so I had to use my cell phone the rest of the trip. I will write more below as my journal so I can remember some of the things we did that I do not have pictures of.

Day 1, September 29 - Los Angeles, Embark

We got there, unloaded our stuff and walked through the terminal. But just before we walked through the metal detectors, Bret realized he had left his wallet in the car. So we walked back out to the car, got it and then back in. The first thing we did was go to our room, 316 Baja (deck 11), where there were chocolate covered strawberries waiting for us. I had ordered these ahead of time because I thought it would be fun to have something special waiting for us. Only two of our four suitcases were in our room, so we didn't worry about unpacking yet. Imam was our steward and always seemed to be in the hall when we were heading out in the evening or in the morning. After leaving our room we headed to one of Bret's favorite places, Prego Pizzeria, where you can get fresh made pizza from 11 am to 11 pm. We toured the Lotus Spa and walked around the sanctuary. We're too cheap to pay go in there so we took advantage on this first day. It is very relaxing in there, I might pay to do it next time. We had to go through the whole emergency procedure thing and were one of the last ones to our muster station, so we stood. We hung out at the front of the ship before leaving. Kristen called Bret asking how to download Furby Boom on the computer (she had recently gotten it on her iPad but wanted it on the computer too.) But thanks to T-Mobile's great service, the call kept dropping. While he was on the phone, I watched as a nearby water feature started playing music with fountains dancing to the music. (Reminded me of World of Color, without all the color, and scenes from Disney movies.) At about 4:30 pm we set sail. We went back to the room where Bret fell asleep and I unpacked. We got ready for the evening and went to the 7 o'clock show that featured their Princess Singers & Dancers and comedian Miguel Washington. For dinner we opted for a table of six in the dining room at 8:00 pm. We met our dinner friends at table 231 that night, Don & Joanna and KL & Ann. We had a lot of fun getting to know them at dinner each night. Even though Bret was super tired, he went to the theater for the late night movie, Iron Man 3. I went back to the room and went to sleep.

Day 2, September 30 - At Sea

We were excited to sleep in and not have to get up for anything. I woke up shortly after 7 and was too awake to go back to sleep, so I went to the gym. It was pretty busy in there. The seas were a little rough that day and I found myself holding onto the treadmill to help keep my balance. I finished my workout and then walked around on the deck a little. It was quite chilly and I realized I probably didn't pack enough warm clothes. Bret woke up shortly after I got back to the room. We got ready for the day and headed to the Horizon Court for breakfast. I loved having fresh fruit readily available, Bret loved the bacon. We caught the end of The Princess Bide on the big screen and then walked around the ship. Bret shot a few hoops at the basketball court and then endured through a dance class with me. They were teaching The Merengue which we had learned 3 years ago. It was a good little refresher course but by the end, I was feeling sick because of the waves. We started each day with a bonine, but I guess the waves were a little too much this day. We stopped by the Pizzeria and Bret watched a bit of a football game on the big screen. We went back to our room and got ready. This was our first formal night. We started our evening with a show, "Destination Anywhere" and then walked through the Piazza during the welcome party. We found a photographer by the stairs and had him snap a few pictures. Dinner was good but by the time we left to go watch the comedian, I wasn't feeling real great. The comedian, Miguel Washington was very funny and clean at the same time. (I loved his joke about his wife that was former military.)

Day 3, October 1 - San Francisco

We did set an alarm this morning because we wanted to wake up early so we could be out on deck when we passed under the Golden Gate Bridge. We had heard that would happen around 5:30 am. We slept with our TV on, set to the channel of the camera off the front of the ship, and when I woke up at 4:30, we were already docked. We had actually passed under the bridge at 3:34 am. So we slept in a little, but not too much because we had tickets for Alcatraz and we were supposed to be there at 9:30 am. By the time we got off the ship, we didn't have a lot of time so when we got off the ship we immediately started walking briskly. After a few minutes I pulled the tickets out to see exactly where we were supposed to be going and realized the pier for it was the other direction from where our ship had docked. So then we turned around walking even faster trying to get there on time. When we got there we were surprised and disappointed to hear that due to the government shutdown, Alcatraz was closed. I was bummed because this was the one thing I wanted to do while in San Francisco. (Well, I wanted to go the Disney Family Museum, but it is closed on Tuesdays.) But because I had ordered them online, we didn't have to wait in line for a refund, but submitted it after we got home. So, plan B. We had heard from a friend about a GPS talking car that you drive around the city and it tells you where to go and what you are seeing as you drive. We walked to the store just past Fisherman's Wharf and rented this glorified motorcycle. Most were yellow, but we lucked out and got the only red one they had. We left the store and the car did not start talking so we drove back and the guy reset the GPS or fixed whatever the problem was, and we were off again. We had an absolute blast in it! We didn't park when we got to the Golden Gate Bridge because the parking lot was full, but people (tourist) sure got a kick out of seeing us in that thing. I can't even count how many people took pictures of us in it. The cars top speed is 40 mph so no driving across the bridge for us. Due to the government shutdown, there were a number of things on the tour that were closed, but we still saw lots of things. The view from on top of twin peaks was amazing, although our ship was on the other side of the hill so we couldn't see it. The tour included Alamo Square where the Painted Ladies are and Bret indulged me further by finding the actual house that is used in the screen shots on Full House. We drove down Lombard street, but didn't get any good pictures there. (Man, I should have jumped out and taken a few.) The tour went through China Town, interesting and since Bret is a Giants fan, we also went to AT&T Park. Then we drove back along the bay, and was impressed with the Bay Bridge. It is lit up at night which looked even cooler. After four hours of driving around, we took the little car back. We had such a great time and those memories are going to last forever. We were pretty hungry by this point so we walked back to the ship about 5 and ate a late lunch. We couldn't justify paying money for food when we could eat for free on the ship. We were docked in San Francisco until 11 pm that night, so after we ate we went back out. We called home and had fun chatting with all the girls. They were having so much fun with Grandma & Grandpa. We looked in a few shops at Pier 39. We went to Del Sol and got some nail polish as well as some jewelry that I have been wanting since I saw it on our last cruise. Then we tried to hurry to see the sea lions before it got too dark. We had done everything we wanted to do and it was almost 8 pm, so we decided we could still catch dinner in the dining room. Ann & KL's daughter lives in San Francisco so they were visiting with her and missed dinner that evening. Late that night, we and I think everybody on the ship, went up on top when we left the dock to watch as we went under the Golden Gate Bridge. It was very windy and I was freezing, but it was still neat. Because of the angle it didn't look like the ship was going to have enough clearance, but we made it. We went under the bridge around 11:10 pm. Then we quickly left so I could warm up.

Day 4, October 2 - At Sea

We slept it (I could get used to this) then went to breakfast. This at sea day was much better, I guess we were going with the current. We slept in (so nice!), went to breakfast and then to a culinary show. The head chef and maître d put on a show which was entertaining while showing us how to make a few things. At the end we got to walk through the galley (kitchen) where they had some neat displays set up. We exited the galley into the Capri Dining Room where they were have an outlet sale of sorts. I wasn't going to look but we ran into Don & Joanna right outside so she convinced us to take a look. It was fun but I really didn't need anything. Bret patiently sat near the window watching the waves as I sorted through shirts on the tables. If I found something I liked, it wasn't in the right size. And if I found something I liked and in the right size, it wasn't on sale. I did end up buying a fancy little purse that I can use for all the times we go out on formal dates. They were having a special Irish Pub lunch at the Crown Grill, so we took advantage of that and went there. Bret got the fish & chips and we left before dessert but then heard that the dessert was the best part. In the afternoon we went our to the deck and watched the ice carving demonstration. Pretty neat talent to have. Then we got some chairs by the pool (and I'm sure Bret grabbed some pizza too) and watched Ferris Bueller's Day Off. We walked around the ship a bit then made it up the gym for a workout. There was hardly anybody in there in the late afternoon. As I was stretching in the room (used for classes), there was a guy in there doing crazy handstands and videotaping himself doing them. I figured he must be one of the performers and we saw him doing some crazy stuff, including pole dancing a few days later. This was our second formal night so we had to get all done up again. Dinner was great and we took pictures with our group. We even managed to squeeze in a quick sitting in front of a photographer. I loved a lot of the pictures, but at $24.99 a piece, we only bought one. We were having a dilemma after dinner because I wanted to go see the dancing/singing show and he wanted to go see the comedian again. Don & Joanna were having the same problem, so Joanna & I went to the show, while Bret & Don went to the comedian. It worked out great. Afterwards we found each other in the piazza right after the balloon drop. Then we went with them to Skywalkers Nightclub. (Side note: I had committed myself to only using the stairs while on the cruise.) We were on deck 5 at the time, and Skywalkers Nightclub is on the 18th, the highest you can go. Bret & I took the stairs and Don & Joanna took the elevator, and believe it or not, we still managed to beat them to the top. (Bret and I raced a few times and I always won on the stairs.) There were not many people there and even fewer on the dance floor. We sat by the window to chat and order drinks. We got our strawberry daiquiri and pina colada, virgin of course, which were really good. We enjoyed visiting with each other but it sure made for a late night. I think it was 1:30 am when we finally got to bed.

Day 5, October 3 - Santa Barbara

We slept in (ahh, such a wonderful feeling) and then hit Horizon Court for breakfast. We don't dock in Santa Barbara, but have to take the tenders ashore. There was a little bit of a line when we got there, but the wait was minimal. I didn't bring my sweater with me and it was pretty chilly as we rode the tender (we like to sit on top) and I was worried that I might be cold all day. But we got there and just started walking. Most people took the trolley ride to State Street, but we enjoyed the walk. I did find it interesting that all the signs on the stores were quite small. Must have some kind of city ordinance on sizes of lettering and signs. We didn't have definite plans but as we neared the end of the shops on State Street we decided to just go to the Santa Barbara Mission because it wasn't too much farther. (Come to find out later that it was a 3 mile walk from the dock to the mission.) We started the tour of the mission and it begins with a short video. All the partying from the night before must have caught up with me because I fell asleep during the video. The mission was very interesting though, first established in 1786. As we were walking back we passed the court house and it has a huge clock tower with an observation deck. So we walked up all 263 stairs (just kidding, I didn't count so I really don't know how many there are.) We also thought we could see some famous giant fig tree they have there as we were walking back. We had to backtrack a little to find it and I was getting nervous about the time. The last tender was leaving the dock at 5 pm and we've heard stories about people getting left behind. By the time we found it, we were literally running past it to get back to the dock in time. We ran and ran (which was not real easy to do since we hadn't eaten or drank anything in about 7 hours.) But we made it back, with a whole five minutes to spare. We got ready for the evening and saw the musical show before dinner. It started at 7, and is just a few decks below us so naturally, we walked out of our door at 7 pm. When we got to the theater it hadn't started yet, and after a few minutes I just knew it wasn't right. We would take a picture of the daily schedule in the Princess Patter (with our phones) each day so we would have the information wherever we were. So I pulled my phone out to look it up and sure enough, they were performing in the Vista Lounge at the other end of the ship. It was funny as we announced to the 50+ people in there that we were all in the wrong place. After dinner, from 10-11 in the Skywalkers Night club they were holding an Elvis Hour. We told Don & Joanna we would meet them there. Bret had missed the beginning of Iron Man 3 on Sunday night and it was playing again for tonight's Movie Under the Stars. So we went there first so he could see it. Then we joined them at the club. KL & Ann even made it for a bit. Not a lot of people there, but nobody dancing either. Towards the end of it the DJ played "Can't Help Falling in Love with You", which helped to get some couples out there dancing. Even though I'm not much of a dance, I just love Elvis music and felt like dancing. Luckily Bret kept me grounded.

Day 6, October 4 - San Diego

We slept in (and it felt great), then had breakfast at Horizon Court. We didn't have to walk far to get to the USS MIdway Museum (an aircraft carrier that is thankfully run by a non profit organization and not the government, or it would have been shut down too.) For the tour you get headphones and a remote to control what audio you hear, based on where you are standing. We spent about four hours in there walking all around. When we were done we walked to Seaport Village and looked in a few shops, but bought nothing (a proud accomplishment of Bret's.) We went to eat when we got back on the boat and called home again. We caught the before dinner show, comedian Steve Caouette and he was really good. I had marked to celebrate my birthday on this day and I guess Bret had asked them to do it (sing to me and give me cake) on Saturday night because Don & Joanna wanted to be there and they were attending a special Chef's Table that evening. I guess our waiter forgot or it got lost in translation because they sang (and very well I might add) and gave me the cake anyway. But they said they would re-do it again the next night. Our assistant waiter, Davor wasn't there that night because he was sick. We ended up going to bed early tonight, like 10:30 pm.

Day 7, October 5 - Ensenada

We slept in (and boy am I going to miss that) then breakfast at Horizon Court.) We didn't feel safe enough to get off and really go into Ensenada. They have like a marketplace with vendors set up where we went and bought some vanilla. There was also a Carnival ship docked so we walked over to their little market thing. The most entertaining part of the day was watching the people exiting the Carnival ship. I swear they were already drunk before they got off the boat. It is definitely a different crowd than Princess. I'm such an old fuddy duddy. We ran into Don & Joanna outside the ship and took advantage of that so we could get a picture with both of us in it. We had not gone swimming yet and needed to put that swimsuit I brought to good use, so we went swimming for a bit. It felt chilly at first so we started with the indoor pool thinking it would be warmer, but then we went to the outside pool and the water was warmer. Bret got hooked watching Oblivion outside so I left him in the pool while I went to get ready for my massage at the spa. It was so relaxing, I even fell asleep. I got back to the room shortly after Bret had. Then came the most depressing part of the cruise, time to pack. We got most of it done, then snuck out to see Steve Caouette. I was slightly worried because he does like to make fun of the audience members that walk in late, and we were walking in late, but luckily we were spared. After the show we walked though the piazza where we saw Duo Push performing, the guys that do the body balancing stuff. We went back to our room, finished the packing so we could set out our luggage before we went to dinner. And of course we were pushing it with time, but that didn't stop me from looking at the rings and buying two on our way to dinner. Davor was sick again so I'm thankful we got his picture from the second formal night. At dinner they sang to me again for my birthday and I even got gifts. Don & Joanna gave me a rose and a scarf they bought in San Francisco. Ann & KL got me a San Diego hat. It was so sweet of them to do that! Now every time I wear those things, I am reminded of them, our friendship and the cruise.

Day 8, October 6 - Los Angeles, Disembark

We did have to set an alarm this morning because we were supposed to be out of our room by 8 am. It was 8:30 when we were finally out, but oh well. We got to enjoy a nice breakfast in the dining room. We ran into Don & Joanna one last time before they exited the ship. We finally got to the theater, which was our designated spot for Cream # 6 luggage tags. We had each brought a book with us on the cruise and hadn't had any time to read them yet. We didn't pack them in our big suitcases the night before, because we knew this would be the perfect time to read them. So, we sat down, Bret opened up the backpack, handed me my book, then over the loudspeaker came the call for Cream #6 to line up and disembark. I couldn't believe the timing! So we exited, and going through customs didn't take too long. I was worried about them not letting me bring my rose, but they didn't seem to care at all. When we got to the parking lot, we were asked to help jump a car with a dead battery. Turns out, that couple is from Glendale. I think those were the first people that we personally met that were not from LA.

We were sad that this vacation was coming to an end. But it was seriously such an amazing trip and we are so thankful we were able to go and have a relaxing vacation with just each other. Thanks again Mom & Dad for watching the girls for us! We couldn't have done this without your help!